MidWest Homes for Pets - ABC's of Crate Training
A: Acquaint your puppy with his new home.
Early in his puppyhood start encouraging your puppy to rest and sleep in the home you’ve provided for him. Remember: “denning” is instinctual with dogs, so it won’t take much effort on your part. Follow step B, below, and your puppy will pretty much train himself to seek security and comfort inside his little “dog room.”
B: Be gentle.
Encourage your puppy to enter his home on his own. Don’t force him! If necessary, toss a little treat into the home. Your puppy may be shy about entering or may enter and beat a hasty retreat, but that’s normal. Just take it slowly. At first, don’t close the door on him; let him go in and come out as he pleases. Once he’s unafraid of his home and happy with with it, make him stay inside it for a few minutes – with the gentle restraint of your hand, if necessary. Then gradually increase the time you keep him in the home, being sure to praise him for his obedience. It may take a few hours or a few days of short training sessions like these, but eventually your puppy will be comfortable staying in his home for longer stretches of time.
C: Acclimate your puppy to having the door closed when he’s in his home.
Sometimes, of course, you’ll have to secure your puppy in his home with the door closed while you’re not around. You can get him used to this by gently shutting the door on him once he’s inside and slowly walking a short distance away while praising him lavishly for settling down and staying calm. Each time you do this, you can walk a little farther away from the home – and then leave the room entirely, always praising your puppy for being “a good boy.” Eventually, he’ll be quite content to sit and sleep in his home unattended, with the door closed.
D: Direct your puppy’s elimination.
Understand that little puppies need to “go” about every 2 – 4 hours. On a fixed schedule (such as after feeding, before bedtime, first thing in morning) let your puppy out, teach him the route to the door, praise him at the door, and take him out to the part of the yard you want him to use. Very quickly, you’ll have gotten him acclimated to an elimination routine that will stay with him for the rest of his life. As your puppy gets older (4 – 6 months), you can gradually leave him in his home for longer periods of time because he can “hold it” longer. Soon he can be in his home all day, if necessary, until someone arrives to let him out.
E: Use our divider panels to aid in elimination control.
Initially, your pup’s home may be too big for him. It’s quite common for dog owners to purchase an appropriately sized home for an adult dog of their pup’s breed. The problem is, puppies tend to sleep in one end of the home and eliminate in the other end, their natural instinct being to keep themselves and their homes clean. MidWest Divider Panels are designed to solve this problem and help you control your pup’s elimination. Just insert a divider panel into the home allowing only enough room for your puppy to lie down. Not wanting to eliminate where he sleeps, he’ll stand up and let you know when he has to “go,” so you can take him out. As your puppy grows, you can move the divider panel back to accommodate his larger size. Eventually, he’ll be big enough – and well-trained enough regarding his elimination habits – that you can remove the divider panel altogether.
For more information on crate training, review our Do’s and Dont's of Puppy Crate Training page and Why Crate Train Dogs? page. Then contact us if you have questions or need help finding the best crate for your pup.